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ACLJ Sends FOIA Request to State Department for Records on U.S. Aid to Palestinian Authority in Violation of Taylor Force Act


Jordan Sekulow

April 14, 2021

5 min read




The Biden Administration has announced that it will resume aid to the terrorist-funding Palestinian Authority (PA), and in doing so, would violate the Taylor Force Act, which prohibits funding for the PA until it changes its behavior of incentivizing terrorism. If taxpayer aid to the Palestinian Authority continues, it will be an added obstacle to achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.

The ACLJ sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Biden State Department regarding U.S. aid to the PA. As stated in the introduction of our FOIA request, “[T]his request seeks records pertaining to the State Department’s knowledge and efforts surrounding the breaking story that the Biden Administration is pursuing increasing U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority in spite of limitations imposed by the Taylor Force Act.”

The Palestinian Authority is notorious for its “pay-for-slay” policy in which it spends huge amounts of money in payments to terrorists and their families. This money goes to terrorists who have killed Israeli and American citizens. The Taylor Force Act was passed by Congress following the 2016 murder of an innocent American tourist in Israel by a Palestinian terrorist. The PA celebrated Taylor Force’s killer as a heroic martyr, and the terrorist’s family began receiving benefit payments from the PA.

The ACLJ has long supported cutting off aid to the PA until the ludicrous pay-for-slay bureaucracy is undone. We do not support giving aid to help reward terrorists for their despicable acts.  Israeli Prime Minister called these payments “an incentive for murder.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is now the ACLJ’s Senior Counsel for Global Affairs, recently wrote an article for us – along with Taylor Force’s father, Stuart Force, and Sander Gerber – on the Taylor Force Act and the pay-for-slay program. In it, he explains:

The Taylor Force Act corrected a profoundly immoral policy that had American taxpayer funds being laundered unwittingly through PA accounts to incentivize murder. The bill also offered a simple litmus test of the PA’s seriousness about making peace: If the PA cannot revoke the laws and infrastructure conferring special treatment for terrorists, then the PA itself remains an obstacle to the “peace process.”

The Taylor Force Act is essential to ensuring that American taxpayer dollars do not go to funding terrorists and their families. Members of Congress have said they will monitor the Biden Administration and State Department to ensure the Administration will comply with the Taylor Force Act. We must not allow this Administration to continue funding programs that directly contradict American principles abroad and provide support to terrorists.

According to a recent report by the Washington Free Beacon, who obtained a non-public State Department report:

The Biden administration privately confirmed to Congress last week that the Palestinian Authority has continued to use international aid money to reward terrorists but said the finding won't impact its plans to restart funding.

In a non-public State Department report obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, the administration said the Palestinians spent at least $151 million in 2019 on its "pay-to-slay" program, in which international aid dollars are spent to support imprisoned terrorists and their families. Financial statements further indicate that at least $191 million was spent on "deceased Palestinians referred to as ‘martyrs.’" Despite this practice, which violates U.S. law and prompted the Trump administration to freeze aid to the Palestinians, the "Biden-Harris Administration has made clear its intent to restart assistance to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”

And, according to an article by The Jerusalem Post, which is based on reports by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW):

The Palestinian Authority is attempting to conceal its "pay-for-slay" stipends to terrorists by creating thousands of new civil and security service positions.

Palestinians released from Israeli prisons will be provided with special jobs within the PA. These 7,500 positions can only be held by those imprisoned by Israel, notably those who were convicted for terrorism offenses. By holding these special positions, the stipends will be disguised as paychecks, PMW alleged. The concealed stipends would frustrate interference by Israel, the US or the EU.

The Taylor Force Act is clear that unless and until the Secretary of State can certify that the pay-for-slay payments have stopped, the federal government is prohibited from sending more foreign aid funds to the Palestinian Authority. That clearly has not happened, and the Biden Administration admits it. There is no way around this.

Secretary Pompeo, writing for the ACLJ, also raised the issue of the Biden Administration considering allowing the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to reopen its mission in Washington, D.C. He writes: "The Administration also appears set to endorse and empower the PA by giving it preemptive rewards, such as re-opening the PLO mission in Washington, D.C., the office that directly administers the pay-for-slay program.”

In our FOIA request, we are asking the State Department to produce all records, communications, or briefings created, shared, sent, received, forwarded, or reviewed by any DOS official regarding in any way: U.S. aid or funds of any kind being given to the Palestinian Authority, communications in reference to the Taylor Force Act, the issue of allowing the PLO mission to reopen in the United States, and any records from former Secretary of State John Kerry or anyone acting on his behalf referencing any of the above topics.

We will keep you updated on this important issue and the progress of our FOIA request. We cannot allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund, reward, or incentivize the killing of innocent civilians by Palestinian terrorists. And we’re willing to go to court to expose and stop it.

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